Madsen-Lauper Reunion -- June 20, 1998
Hi Ute Ranch, near Park City, Utah
In attendance: Madsen Cousins (all grandchildren of Hans Madsen)
- Irene Williams Buehner (and husband Paul)
- Helen Williams Bingham (and husband Jack)
- Marie Madsen Glade (and husband George)
- Albert ("Ab") Madsen (and wife Dorothy)
- Connie Madsen Terry
- Ben Madsen (and wife Jeanette)
- J.R. Madsen (and wife Mavis)
- Gordon Madsen (and wife Carol)
- Truman Madsen (and wife Ann)
- Carol (widow of Grant Madsen) Smith (and husband Howard)
Lauper Cousins (granddaughter and great-granddaughters of Hans Madsen)
- Viola Lauper Johnson (accompanied by daughter JoAnn Johnson Miner)
- Claudia Lauper Bushman (and husband Richard)
Truman Madsen recorded the presentations and conversations among the cousins. He then transcribed those recordings. (Consequently, there are parts where the recording was garbled and the transcription is similarly unclear.)
These conversations are very interesting and telling. They offer a unique window into the lives of the family members who are the parents and grandparents of these cousins.
- Else Nielsen (1833-1905), Emma Lauper (1881-1958), Niels/Nels Peterson(1878-1962) (mother, daughter and son of Maria Johanna Sorensen)
- Maria Johanna Sorensen (1857-1929) (grandmother to these cousins)
- Franklin Madsen (1887-1971) and wife Florence (1886-1977) (uncle to these cousins)
- Harry Madsen (1890-1978) and wife Edith (1892-1965) (parents of Agnes, Albert and Marie)
- Minnie Madsen Williams (1891-1974) and husband Ben (1888-1989) (parents of Irene and Helen)
- Axel Madsen (1893-1986) (father of Grant, Truman and Gordon)
- Edna Skinner Madsen (-1995) (second wife of Axel Madsen)
- Julius Madsen (1899-1981) and wife Connie (1908-1981) (mother of Connie, Ben and J.R.)
- P.W. Madsen Family (members of the Madsen-Tetzner branch)
- Helen on Family History Research
- Paul Buehner on Temple-Building
- Claudia and Richard on Family Reunions
- A "memoir" by cousin Albert ("Ab") Madsen in the month subsequent to the Reunion. (Albert passed away in 2000.)
Following is the majority of the transcription.
Else Nielsen, Emma Vissing Lauper, Niels/Nels Peterson
- See also:
- Else Nielsen
- Emma Lauper
- Niels/Nels Peterson
- Emma Lauper
I want to pay tribute to Else because she is our connection with the Gospel. Thanks to our missionary system, for which I am so grateful, these persistent Elders returned often enough to that attic. She did not want to see anyone. She had been a very social woman and had her little get-togethers with the neighbors. But now she was withdrawn and bitter and closed the door on everyone. But they persisted and she finally bought the program. It is to her that we owe our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. She was converted and she and our grandmother Maria and Anna were baptized. (The other two were too young).
Then Else could think of nothing but reaching Zion. But it was a terribly hard trip. The Emigration society finally enabled them to come. Eventually they paid back. My mother Emma, her grandmother Else, Emma's mother Maria J. and Aunt Anna all emigrated together [in 1884]. My mother was then between the ages of three and four. They went to Sanpete county where there was a colony of Scandinavians and Danish converts. This was my mothers home. She was raised there by her grandmother Else and Grandfather Jacobsen.
Grandma Else met and married a wonderful little LDS widower named Jens Jacobsen who made a home. He was rich, so to speak: he had an acre of ground, a horse, a cow, a goat and a few chickens. That was mother's home in little Moroni, the first real home and security that she knew.
Grandmother Maria married Hans Madsen. Theirs was a difficult situation from the start, you know. Five children were born: Franklin, Harry, Minnie, Axel and Julius. Then Hans was stricken. And one of the older sons of his first marriage [P.W. Madsen] brought him to Lehi to one of his properties. And then grandmother Maria sent word to my mother in Moroni. Maria was in failing health. She had five children and a gravely-ill husband and she needed help. Mother had gotten her first job at a hotel. She was between 17 and 18. She left, and it was hard. She went to Lehi and met this new family and rejoiced in the new brothers and sisters. She met and loved the new father in the home. They made wonderful friends and she cared for Hans in his very ill state. Some of the time he was just wonderful in demeanor. Other times he was very irrational and hard to care for. It's no wonder that Maria broke down in health. Hans told her [Emma] that he would love to have her as a daughter in the eternities. And that is what we cling to.
Eventually my mother met my father, a little Swiss-French immigrant who was doing farming across the road from Maria. They were friends before my mother got there Through that channel they met and married. And you know the rest of the story.
JR: We concur with the idea of Hans wanting her to be his daughter.
Mavis: Has that work been done?
Viola: Yes, in 1977. At that time when I researched the records, I had written to all the uncles, your parents, and asked about this and had done my best to bring the records up to date. At the same time I wrote to Uncle Nels's family in Rexburg and I had a connection with a cousin, Afton, who Helen knows very well, and asked her if she was interested. She said she was but hadn't proceeded in any direction. I got records of my mother and grandmothers and other vital statistics from Denmark. I also received a birth certificate for Uncle Nels. And so I prepared all of this and sent it to cousin Afton. She said, "please do it for me." On November 17, 1977, I with three of my brothers and my sister, went to Oakland Temple and had that work done.
Irene: Do you remember when Nels was born? (See family group sheet). Did you ever meet him?
Viola: No. But he did visit my mother. But I was so young at the time. After we went to California he did not visit. My sister Alice served at the same time as Helen and Ab in the Eastern States. Alice met Afton and this brought me to a correspondence relationship, as with you.
J.R. How much older was your mother than Nels? Viola: She was born in 81 .
Mavis: What became of the brother?
Viola: He was "Uncle Nels." Three years older than Emma. At one time, before Grandma Else was ready to come to Zion, some friends in the Branch there were going. Either she asked or they volunteered to take a member of her family and she sent this little Nels. She later did the same with Uncle Julius. It was shattering and poignant experience. She could hardly do it, it was so wrenching, not knowing if she would ever see these children again. Nels was a lad. Only four. Nels kind of grew up on his own, just a youngster sent out to herd sheep and chores and work. He would correspond with his mother in the old country. She just suffered a lot. I'm sure he did too He live a difficult life and it wore on him. For many years he was alienated from everyone and everything.
Irene: Grandma Maria and your mother [Emma] came within another four years after they sent Nels and Julius.
Helen on Family History Research
Helen Williams Bingham: Is my hair straight? I can't read without my glasses and I can't see with them. [Showing a chart] This was something I wanted to try with my computer. The father's the one out here. Here is mother Maria, then Hans and so on. It is an ancestor chart in the "PAF companion program" that the Church has put out. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Apparently I did. It was fun to do.
This has been a most exiting time. I called Connie Rie and you cannot believe what she's got. I don't think Julius or Connie threw anything away even little bitty cards "Love you. Choice memories. We spent a couple of hours just going through pictures and trying to figure out who people were We were pretty good on some of them, family characteristics.
Before you go home you all have a little packet with the pedigree chart. Viola has done the work. We have a Jacobsen line which is our sealing line and that's what this is. He is the one who married Else and we are all sealed to him. To Hans and Maria and to Else and Jens.
Then we have our biological line. I do have that. ...One of Julius' grandsons in the Philippines. They sent a bunch of stuff.
The one thing I am not sure about on the Jacobsen line is that some time ago Viola found out that we were headed on the wrong Jacobsen line. We will check the corrected copy. She sent me all this but at the time I was not diligent.
Those who are good enough to respond to my request for lists of your children are on this list. And those really close to me geographically, who are squirming, have a family characteristic. They did not send me the lists.
We were asked to do about a paragraph of what we remembered. Let's do Maria first.
Maria Johanna Sorensen Madsen
Helen: I was only nine when she died.  So some of this is probably made up. I remember her as attractive in an old-fashioned way. Rather severe and austere for a little girl. She lived with us for a time. I remember having to wrap her legs with Ace bandages every morning. She had varicose veins. And I inherited them. It was a difficult task to please her with my little hands, but I really tried. I seem to remember mother's comment that she was a man's woman. I believe it was true. Her sons could earn money for her. The daughters weren't too great at that [Emma and Minnie]. She was not unkind to her daughters, but she doted on her sons. The boys were an asset financially as well as solicitous of her every wish. Uncle Axel was next to last to marry.
The funeral was interesting to a giggly nine-year-old. To this day I stand by this feeling when I looked at grandmother. She was laid in her casket in our living room on 13th South before the funeral. And I went in to look at her and she winked at me. [Laughter]. I remember Aunt Florence and her sister, Marguerite, singing at the funeral. But in the printed program there is no mention of this. Somewhere I must have heard them. Marguerite was a rather well endowed lady and when she sang with her eyes closed I totally came apart, much to my mothers humiliation. I almost became the decedent.
I always felt like Peter Christensen was responsible for grandmothers death. He called her after many years of no contact. Christiania, her friend, was talking with her on the phone about this conversation and then Maria had her stroke. Christiania called Uncle Axel and when he reached the apartment she was gone. So I thought "Pete" was the one that did it. All this is gleaned from much hearsay and pictures and a totally vivid imagination.
["Peter Christensen" is the man that Maria married in 1909, Hans Madsen having died in 1902. It was not a good marriage and they were later divorced. More of this is referred to later.]
Ab: I remember going to their home over on Windsor Street many times because we were within walking distance of 33rd Ward. I was blessed by Pete in the 33rd Ward.
Truman: Dad told us that he was 13 pounds at birth! And he felt like she never fully recovered. She still bore Julius. But she went to bed every month.
Dad had his tonsils out shortly before mother's death. He was miserable. So he stayed with [his] mother Maria in the Kimball apartments just above north Temple. Some hot cereal was made that would go down easy. I was only two and a half. I remember being told, "don't spill that" We went in for a brief visit. Dad was flat out recovering from his tonsillectomy. Within a month of that Maria had a stroke and was gone.
Irene: They [Maria and Pete] were married in 1909 and almost twelve years married. But not really together. Maria died in 1929.
Ab: Much occurred about which little was said. "Pete" was not a good man. His name was Peter Christensen. They were divorced before she died. And she took back the name of Madsen.
Irene: Scott Clawson provided Gordon copies of his research on Hans and Maria.
[Scott Clawson is the husband of Agnes Madsen, sister to Ab (Albert) and Marie.]
Truman: Let's take a quorum vote to thank Scott for his intrepid research. We are so sorry Agnes and Scott can't be with us today.
Irene: We lived close by Grandmother. As a little girl I could walk south on Windsor to her home. Gramma was a good cook. I remember standing at her table and board and making "Jule Kage" [In Danish=Christmas Cake]. I make it and love it to this day.
I remember her wonderful garden. A vacant lot south of their house. When I was young it was filled with flowers. Every Memorial Day Mother and Dad [before Helen was born] would walk down to grandmothers house and pick the iris and roses and peonies on 29th of May. Then we would wrap them in damp newspapers, and take the street car out to Wasatch Lawn and lay them out very nicely on the graves where her sister was buried.
I remember that we played a game called Flinch. A card game sitting in her home, a couch and table and all these cards. I was so young and intense, every time I would Flinch I would cry. Father, a wonderful disciplinarian would say, "If you cry again--you should have fun,--you are out of the game." Sure enough I Flinched and I put my head down on the couch and couldn't play any more.
Truman: Since then you have manifested wonderful self-control.
Ab: I saw a cartoon of a mother whaling the delights out of her child saying, "I want you to have fun!"
Mavis: What was Maria's personality?
Irene: Wonderful to me and, I thought, to everyone. My mother was like her in this way, Very proper. She wanted to have gloves she wanted to wear hats, with veils, and she always dressed very nicely, clean and tidy.
Irene: She wasn't very tall not as tall as I am.
Viola: She was built well but not small.
Mavis: In her pictures she looks to me like she has an hourglass figure.
Paul Buehner on Temple-Building
Truman: Somewhere I have heard that Otto Buehner, your father, was promised in a blessing that he and his sons would be builders of Temples. How many Temples have Buehner Brothers been involved in?
Gordon: Paul, would you tell the story you told me of the Temple in South America? We were asked to help with the Temple in Uruguay. We looked at the map. No way we could get pre-cast stone from here to there. I asked one of our fine men, Magelby to go down alone, and said if he needed help we would send a couple of others. They knew how to cast stone. All went well until he had the problem of the tower. He was at a loss to know how to do it. One night when he was troubled and half asleep an angel stood by his bedside, a true angel. The interview lasted a long time. Maybe thirty minutes. When he awoke the next morning he knew exactly what to do. The tower was finished and the Temple dedicated. I have asked him to tell this a couple of times but he is very shy.
Truman: Where are the ten?
Paul: They include Los Angeles, Oakland, Idaho Falls, Orlando, Seattle, St.Louis, Denver.
Truman: What about San Diego?
Paul: That was after I retired. When they began remodeling they called us often. They needed marble for many of the Temple interiors.
Gordon: Did you not make pre-cast statues of Moroni for Temples?
Ab: I heard that when Truman was on Temple Square and people asked why the angel Moroni faced east he said that Moroni needed to sing and east was where the Chicago symphony was. And when LDS people interrupted with questions on the tour Truman would say, "Are you a member of the Church?" "Yes." "Then go to hell."
Truman: I did not!
P.W. Madsen Family
Truman: Dad thought this baby was he [showing a picture of three men and a baby] . But it is baby Richard. [Richard W. Madsen, Jr. -- This picture can be seen at Hans Madsen Family.]
Irene: It shows four generations: Hans, his son, P.W., his son RW., and the baby, Richard's son.
Truman: Richard Madsen the Third is now President of ZCMI. He carne to the holy land and had a heart attack. I was asked to give him a blessing in the Jerusalem Hospital on Mt. Scopus. That was a great connection; a healing experience. He recovered enough to get on an airplane and made it home, and is now back to full strength. Our generation needs to reunite with him and the other Madsens.
[Truman is understandably confused, since there are so many "Richard Madsens". Richard W. Madsen III is the son of Richard W. Madsen, Jr., the baby in the picture. But the man he met in Jerusalem, who has attended subsequent Madsen-Lauper reunions, is Richard H. Madsen. The two men are cousins: Richard H. is the son of Richard W. Jr.'s brother Francis (who went by the name of "Bill").]
Ab: When we held my mothers funeral, Richard Madsen II [Jr.] came to pay his respects and Dad [Harry] didn't know him.
Irene: I worked at ZCMI when the older Richard was the Manager. When I was married, he gave us a wedding present we still have and use, a most elegant round table with carving down below. He was wonderful to me.
Another connection: I can remember during the Relief Society general conference there were always two Madsens present, not general authorities: R.W. and young Francis Madsen, Louise's husband, "Bill." He would stand by the south door of the Tabernacle. He was not a well man, but he was attentive all during her presentation. Every time. Never missed.
I can also see Franklin walking the periphery of the balcony to hear Aunt Florence's chorus.
On Franklin and Florence
[tape almost inaudible - so Truman paraphrases the next several comments.]
Gordon said when he married into the Cornwall family he could "hold his own" with their extensive musical savvy because Uncle Franklin had provided Grant a long list of classics and Grant procured and played the old 78 rpm albums incessantly in the Madsen home.
Gordon also recalled helping legal proceedings which Uncle Frank and Florence went through in New England (Boston) to benefit their two adopted daughters.
Ab said Uncle Frank auditioned him in his mid-teens. He later sang in a' capella choruses under Lisle Bradford at East Hi and later Professor Giles at the U of U.
The "southern Utah" Madsens remembered Franklin's visits to Springdale and the Parks and performances in the "amphitheater" outdoors. He once predicted that anyone who put one dollar into the land there would take 15 out.
Truman: My impressions of this musical duo include:
- A conversation at our home at 367 B just after Hitler had invaded Russia. Uncle Harry was saying that if the Nazis could overcome Stalingrad the tide of the war could turn to Hitler's world domination. But Uncle Franklin said in effect, "The German armies will be unequal to the Russian winter. Ski troops will swoop down and repel them. Russia will not fall to Hitler." Uncle Harry said that was Santa Claus stuff. But Franklin turned out to be prophetic.
- A luncheon where he reported teaching in Chicago and how for health reasons he had been advised to drink a quart of watermelon juice a day. Maybe that is how the Madsens got into devouring watermelons claiming it is "good for what ails you."
- A session learning to conduct hymns. Uncle Frank taught Grant and me simultaneously, just before our missions, how to conduct different songs and time signatures using what he called the "half-moon." Or, for all purposes, an up and down "I" motion.
- A glimpse of his notes. I looked over his shoulder as he took abundant notes during the funeral of Aunt Edith's invalid sister. It was at a small funeral home in Salt Lake. Franklin was then teaching a Sunday School class. He recorded his impressions of the main speaker, President Joseph Fielding Smith.
- Hearing him pray. The recurrent phrase was "help us onward and upward." Also hearing him praise the food in Danish whenever he ate with us. It sounded like "toosun tuk f mutton." (A thousand thanks for food). Hearing him exclaim, "Crackers!" his harmless slang. Dad's equivalent was "Tueeva sweena bast" which we were told meant "thieving swine beast" When he was pumping the choke on the old Essex (which he called "Colebrute" --where did that come from?) he would shorten it to "tueevva."
- Seeing him carefully drive his Nash at one stage while staying in California (perhaps Alhambra?). He and Aunt Florence were making daily trips to the Los Angeles public library. Watching (maybe helping?) him haul carton after carton of books and stacking them up four long shelves high in the huge back garage of 19 East First South. We then covered them with a massive brown tarp. I said to Dad, "Did Aunt Florence tell him either to move the books or to move himself?" He smiled and said, "Something like that" I remember his describing how he was going to write a two-volume classic on everything to do with music. Its origins and history, its structure and composition, its effects on human life, its social impact, its place among the other arts, etc. The book was never completed. I wonder where the unfinished manuscript is. No one at BYU seems to know.
- A table discussion where he said if he had it to do over he would start with educational preparation, then raise a family (but he and Aunt Florence could have no children, except by adoption), and then he would turn to creative work. He was saying that trying to keep all three vocations going at once was a difficult task.
We once asked him to help us comprehend how composers composed. He said they all start with other musical phrases and themes in mind. Then they work with notes the same way most of us work with words trying to put them together in a coherent and expressive way.
A request: He told us that he hoped someone would see that Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony, the 6th, last movement, would be played at his funeral. Others were in charge of the funeral. So it didn't happen.
[On family musical favorites. Dad loved Leibestraume, and Clare de Lune. He also said Uncle Julius' quartet sang a glorious version of "Jesus, Love of my Soul. Uncle Jule once told me a favorite of his was the third movement of Scheherazade. Uncle Harry? Aunt Minnie?]
A few kaleidoscopic images of Aunt Florence's Singing Mothers. The Conference reports show that Uncle Franklin sang a baritone solo, "The Holy City" in Swedish (I thought he went to Norway) during one October Conference. He conducted Brigham Young University mixed choruses in the conferences of 1941, 1947, 1948, 1949. Aunt Florence' Singing Mothers sang in conferences in October 1945, 1952, 1956, 1961.
I remember visits with Aunt Florence when she was in a rest home close to Utah Lake. Her spirits were high and even at her advanced age she plunked the piano vigorously both for joy and the gratification of those around her. Her sense of humor was as bright as a new penny. Dad would josh her. She fired back as much as he could send. Her voice reminded me of the almost bass voice of the woman in "The Music Man" who says, "B-a-al-zak."
It is a joy to me as a Stake President that we are housed in the Harris Fine Arts Building and hold our combined meetings in the "Madsen Recital Hall," named after Franklin and Florence J. Madsen. They left a permanent mark.
On Harry and Edith
Ab: [See his separate written notes.]
Marie and Ab and others: [tape almost inaudible] All remembered Harry rarely spoke or taught without using an unforgettable visual aid, like an old shoe. And as Thomas S. Monson said of him, he had a winning way with youth, including wayward youth.
Truman: We observed, living close to LDS Hospital, that Uncle Harry's green Chevy sedan was parked there, it seemed, almost every night. We later learned about his practice of visiting Ward members on birthdays. We wondered if that extended to those in the hospital.
I remember he had a sling shot. We were near Weber Canyon and had a bonfire for a "weenie roast." just off the highway. There were plenty of small round rocks near the stream. Uncle Harry wound up his sling shot and let it fly. Just then a car appeared coming at high speed from the north and he began to wince and cavort hoping the rock would miss the car. It did. Just barely.
I learned later that uncle Harry was a sure shot and a dead ringer at horse shoes. That was impressive to a boy. The Western Leather and Findings Company was his native habitat and I somehow picked up the impression that he was brilliant at organizing. Dad both celebrated and lamented that Harry was punctual to a fault; he said he often drove hundreds of miles to get back to obligatory meetings. Despite his release he never ceased being a Bishop.
We were present at the surprise evening affair in the old chapel, honoring Uncle Harry. It was arranged, as I recall, by a non-member of the Church. There were speakers and apt tributes and sweet music and then the longest reception line I have ever been in. All shook hands. I still remember Uncle Harry's kindly disarming smile. Dad quoted all through our lives a statement of Uncle Harry: "Not the badge of office we wear but the service we render is what counts on the Lord's ledger."
In the car with him once I remember his conversation with Dad about "delving into the mysteries." He knew some who had become unbalanced and found themselves outside the church because they were obsessed with some pet doctrine that they literally rode over a cliff. . He spoke of all the futile speculation about the second coming. His point was that we should live as if it were tomorrow, by doing as Christ would do. And then no matter how soon or how remote we would be ready.
At some point I was asked, perhaps after my mission in New England, to give a blessing to Aunt Edith. I cannot remember what was said. But that triggers another memory of his blessing me during the years of sciatic distress. It was both a prayer and a blessing and strengthened me.
In later years his "Liberal Loan Company" was officed in the front segment of the Axel A Madsen Company. He would shuffle in occasionally and check up on his loan processor. She was an austere and humorless English lady. But in his engaging way he could cheer her up
Harry never gave Dad much notice about their trips. He would quietly turn toward the door and say over his shoulder, "We should be leaving next Tuesday:" That meant the two of them were to make their annual pilgrimage to Zion, to and through Vegas, and on to Los Angeles. Dad said he loved to watch Harry's delight in the crashing blue and white surf of the Pacific. It was one of the rare times he was totally at rest.
Ab: The last time I saw them together was at Phoenix when they had come down to see your brother, Grant. [who was graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Corps] I took the bus up from Tucson where I was stationed. Then I spent a whole summer living with Grant.
Truman: Dad told me the last time he visited Harry they both talked about "living on" at their advanced age. Dad was about to leave the porch. He turned back and said, "You raised me, you know." Only a few days later he stood by Harry's coffin and was glad he had said it.
Some of Uncle Harry's witticisms:
- If all the people who slept in church were laid end to end, they would be a lot more comfortable.
- I have often carefully prepared notes for sermons or funeral addresses. But when I spoke I didn't get around to them fortunately.
- As I bless expectant mothers I am often asked to tell them whether it will be a boy or a girl. Afterward I have assured them the baby would be human.
- The greatest water power on earth is a woman's tears.
- After age 60, birthdays should not be greeted with "Congratulations," but with "Sympathy."
On Ben and Minnie
Irene: I think Grandma Madsen was disappointed when mother [Minnie] married Dad. She was young, only 18. And things were difficult at the time. I think economically. Dad came from a fine Mormon family but didn't go to Church. He didn't have any bad habits. But my guess is he didn't pay tithing. Anyway they weren't married in the temple. I think that was very hard on Grandmother. So I don't know that she was fond of my father at first. But he was just one of those special men and I suspect that as the children were born, he felt to start to go to Church a little. He used to run the shows on Friday night in the 31st Ward. He became interested in scouting. He worked for ZCMI forever; never had another job. He took his own money and bought frames for printing the scout oath. He went to bishop Goddard after putting the frames up. The Bishop called him in. "Sorry this room is used by others than scouts and you can't have the scout oath on the wall." Dad was short -tempered. He said, "If the scout oath isn't good enough for the Church the Church isn't good enough for me." And walked out. He was age 23. Occasionally after that he would help with the Ward movies. But he was discouraged when any of us participated in the Church. Mother prayed for fifty years that Dad would come back to the Church. He was always a wonderfully honest man. In 1963 mother and Dad finally went to the Temple, due to the good people of the old Parley's Ward. Some of our dearest friends had a lot to do with it, including Paul's brother. Someone just touched his heart and the Spirit was there. Paul and I were thrilled to our core.
From that time on he never stopped doing temple work and went to most of the sessions each day and mother joined him for many years. Until she was very ill. [He lived to be over 100 and it is estimated that he did 10,000 endowments.]
Gordon: While they were living on 21st East we were in the Sugarhouse ward and I had an Elders quorum president who had a downs-syndrome boy of about 4. Your mother [Minnie] would come by and bring him cherries. She wanted me to take a bucket for him he so I called her back, "I have a young man to help would that be all right?" We didn't pick too many cherries but she was grateful.
Uncle Ben once told me that while working for ZCMI they had built their cabin. And he had Forest Service problems
Irene: He actually built that cabin by himself. He had taken a chicken coop apart board by board, windows and everything, hauled them and built the cabin himself a one room cabin with dividers. It was his pride and joy. Every summer we would spend time there.
Ab: We talk about the survivorship of the brothers. It should likewise be said of Aunt Minnie. To come out of that grim situation with all her special duties. Was she in the middle?
Truman: As a mere lad I remember visiting with Dad and my brothers just off 9th East. And 13th South. The age equivalence are unclear. But Ray was in his teens. Irene had been working as the bright flower as Dad's secretary, and Helen was coming into her teens.
My impression was of how very quiet the father, Ben, was and also how reluctant even when he was spoken to.
I remember Aunt Minnie saying that someone had spoken in her ward and commented that he "focused" on her face because, he said, "She had such a serene and attentive countenance." Dad often remarked to me that if I wondered what his mother's face looked like, just look at Aunt Minnie.
Connie Rie: Uncle Axel was always there for you. He always treated me like a queen. My children felt the same way. I guess other people too. He waited on me when I needed anything. Dinner was just right--fried chicken. That happened often as we visited his office. We went to the grabeteria. JR:. He told great stories. On some of our walks I would get so interested in what he was saying I wouldn't know where we went. Mother would say, "Where did you go?" I would say, "I don't know." He opened my eyes to the beauty of the world. In later years when we came to the apartment across from ZCMI, he was always jumping up to serve. He'd would go get whatever. I could never get over that.
Connie Rie: When we didn't have grandfathers any more and didn't get their guidance Uncle Axel gave it. When it came time for my son's mission he went to Uncle Axel. He was an idol. Every time anyone talks about the church or blessings, Uncle Axel is the one they mention.
Ben: Three recollections: When I was young we came up to 19 East First South. A man entered with a cigar in his mouth. Uncle Axel picked up a waste paper basket and followed this guy around. He finally took his cigar out and threw it in the waste basket and Uncle Axel put it down.
Another time he, my mother and I and JR were in a theater. A woman sat right in front of us with a huge hat. I remember that Uncle Axel leaned over and suggested that the lady remove her hat. Somehow he got that hat removed. He was a fabulous character.
Another. I think it was all three brothers Grant, Truman and Gordon came together out of the Deseret Gym. They had not seen us, but they were separating. Uncle Axel kissed them all on the lips. It gave me a whole new respect for that procedure.
Gordon: Never on the lips, always on the cheek sometime close to the lips. But Howard's father, Willard, kissed his mature children on the lips. And so did Heber J. Grant.
Mavis: Axel always kissed me on the lips.
J.R.: Julius would always take a lady's hand this way [hand on top of hers] and kiss his own hand.
Truman: I used to do that to Carol Smith.
Carol: It made me so mad.
Mavis: He was the best poet; he could recite poetry. We'd have a bonfire and he was always begging to do "The face on the Barroom Floor"
Truman: He wrote a poem about Zion Canyon. He had a poetic soul.
Ab: Dad always said there wasn't a word that you could give Uncle Axel that he could not define accurately. What a blessing we enjoyed by having the privilege of hearing good language and good literature all our life. Today children don't hear anything like that. A lot of brilliance flowed out of that.
Carol Madsen Smith: I can remember two instances on the phone. One time I said a word.. He said, "oo...wonderful word, I never heard it before, how do you spell it?" He was always excited about a new word.
Carol Cornwall Madsen: He fought in World War I and always had a remembrance of the Germans in those years. So there was some irony that his only two grandsons were called to Germany on their missions When we were taking Grant to the MTC we went to Dad Madsen's home. We wondered what he might have to say. There was no sense of resentment. He was very encouraging. He told Grant he must love the people in order to do the work. Within the next couple of weeks he died. We were fortunate that Grant came out of the MTC to his funeral, and gave the family prayer. That was a tender moment for our son and for us.
Gordon: He had written that "four generation of Madsens have had to fight the Germans." Carol Smith: When his great grandson [Grant Jackson] went to Denmark on his Mission, I was sure that Axel was doing his job in heaven.
Ab: Uncle Axel took us in the old Essex with everything that could be piled on. He took us on a tour of southern parks and Grand Canyon. (Dad didn't have a car till I was about 14 then we had that old '28 Buick from Aunt Catherine). We got to see the parks.
Then he took us to Yellowstone. We went to St. Anthony and met Uncle Nels and Aunt Mabel again. He took us out to the old homestead where the cabin was built. He provided us with some of those things that otherwise we would never have had. I might add that he spoke at my farewell.
Mavis: Uncle Axel was so wonderful to us. Uncle Axel and Edna used to come down and check on us. Dad and Uncle Axel were very close. Used to go on excursions. Mother would say where are you going. 'We don't know."
Mavis: [To Gordon and Truman] Your father seemed to have an innate knowledge of health. Now they are saying [as he said] you should only eat in butter [Instead of oleo or lard]. Ann: He took long walks.
Ab: Dad [Harry] took long slabs of bacon, put the eggs on, and turned it over. Talk about cholesterol!
JR : Uncle Axel was always my hero. My father had directed this great mission play. They lost one of their star players. Uncle Axel had to learn the part literally overnight. Did a masterful job. As a little boy we would come to B street. We were royalty. We were the neatest of kids. Making sure of every detail, he gave us places to sleep in the office in 19th First. Always a thrill. The office seemed to go back and back forever. And the furniture was many old desks. My rolltop desk must have come from Uncle Axel. A monstrous, beautiful old rolltop desk. And you can't have it!
Irene: I was his secretary once, the first year I married.
Howard: I have missed something about Uncle Axel. Nobody has mentioned. He was Bishop of the Ensign first ward. Kitty Comer from the LDS Hospital. Mavis: So everyone of the boys was a Bishop. [except Franklin].
J.R.: All my children went to the Belvedere and they rolled out the carpet...and Edna's pineapple cookies. My family revered him. He had them sing for him.
Truman: They revoked his driver's license on grounds of age at 90. He asked if he could take the test. He got 100 on the written and passed the driving part without a hitch. They gave him a license without restrictions and he drove until the last week of his life, age 93.
J.R.: Two things we miss the most: The Grabeteria and the office at 19 East First. I came out of the Army on leave. They were always places of refuge and security.
On Edna (Skinner) Madsen
Connie Rie: She was my favorite Aunt. She always showed that she cared about me. I remember being at her home. I was crying. She took me in the bedroom and dried my tears. She was really specia1. She mothered. me a lot over the years. In later years we talked. often and she told me things about the family I had never heard. She sent me recipes and doilies and my favorite cookies. She kept me in touch with the family She sent me a lot of Lauper information and told me what was going on. I'm not really good at writing letters. She was good at it. Not many days would go by and another letter would come.
I remember when Uncle Axel and Edna announced. they were going to get married.. I thought that was the most tremendous thing ever. And together how they cared. for each other. Edna filled a place in my life.
Truman: A coincidence: The day after Christmas in 1936. Edna came to 367B and said, " I understand you need a hired gir1." Fifty [actually, sixty] years later to the day, the day after Christmas, she said, "I would like to take a shower. I'd like to put on my best dress."
One hour later she was gone.
Ab: Your mother [Emily Grant Madsen] died on my 8th birthday. July 3rd.
On Julius and Connie
Truman: I am remembering visiting the Julius Madsen furniture store called. "Treasure Chest" which must have been in South Ogden. For a time Gordon a little boy lived there with Uncle Jule and Aunt Connie. She taught him jingles and lyrics. For example:
He wouldn't grow no bigger
So they put him in the Robby Show
He jumped. out the window
And broke his little finger
So he couldn't play the ole banjo
He went down the walk
In a little tiny truck
And he jumped. over the fence
And he found ten cents
And he bought a little honey
And he spent a little money
But he didn't save mommy any
Truman to J.R: How did he impress McGroarty who was the Mission Play Producer?
J.R.: Uncle Julius worked for Union Pacific. They built the lodges at Bryce and Zion and Cedar Breaks. Busses came from Cedar City The Carmel Tunnel was not yet built. Julius would take these tours. At night they would build a fire and he would sing to them. This is where John Steven McGroarty heard him perform and invited. him to come to California.
The Theater in San Gabriel was the largest stage in America at that time. Julius developed over 200 in the cast. Even horses across the stage. He once performed, I think, for Pr,esident Hoover.
Dad had been part of the Coogan quartet which sang in California on Radio quite often. Dad became involved in a variety of stage productions not only directed and the number 1 wicked bad guy, as well as the dashing commander of the ship. He was offered a contract for the movies. When Lon Cheney died, he was offered his place. He had a friend named Donald Woods who was already in movies. He said, "If you want to raise a family stay out of it." He turned it down because of that.
He was involved with Cosmetics. He and mother had a trailer and they would travel the Southwest. Their greatest customers were in the red light district; how to use the makeup.
He eventually got into the bubble bath business and we all became squeaky clean. Guinea pigs in the bath tub. A man called me on the phone, one of his former employees, then 85, trying to get the old soap. I recognized his voice.
I took a man on tour. The brakes went out through the tunnel and switchback. We had been coasting--out of gas. I remember his shouting, "holy cow! holy cow!" It was a blue convertible Ford and I don't know where we got it. . .
Ben: Truman's convertible.
Truman: I heard you cracked it up.
Dad kept on with the Company but lost it to a partner. Kept using "Julius V. Madsen and Company" for a year, then changed the name and started doing wholesale out of a 3,000 square foot warehouse. On Figuroa Street, Ben and I would sort invoices. No file system. Had them in stacks all along the walls. At one point we started to tear up the invoices, thanks to Harry Truman.
We had many visits with the brothers. Grant came and visited. The handsomest soldier in his uniform. He flew this big twin-engine bomber and dipped the wings over the house.
Dad developed ulcers and was in the sanitarium. "Take me home these guys are crazy." You'd see him at the window. "Jake get me out of here." Dad came to Salt Lake very ill. They proposed to remove his stomach. The surgeons were not LOS. George Albert Smith was President. President Smith told him, "If you will move with your family to southern Utah, you will be healed. And also your son will be healed." Nobody knew then that Ben had tuberculosis. In southern Utah the air was better for TB.
Ben: If Dad were here he would say "lets eat"
JR: He went back to California. And then three months later came back to Salt Lake. Before going to the operating room they took X-rays No ulcer. No scar tissue. Nothing. So Dad got better. And Ben became an all-American in four sports and got this beautiful girl because he was a big hero. They carried me off the football field.
Mavis: I've never seen older brothers that loved a younger brother more than they [Harry and Axel and Franklin] did. They would never talk about their own lives. I served them ice cream and custard and they spent the time talking about Julius.
Ab: Julius was always doing something new. I wrote down "The family entrepreneur." Dad said that Julius sold their wedding gifts to start a business in Logan. He made furniture and sold it in Ogden.
JR: I was sent back to California to finish high school because of the environment. I went back with friends. All the people of the Ward where he had been Bishop adopted me. Dad was a fund-raiser. He bought a whole carload of KIX cereal during the war. Ben and I climbed on top; Ben fell off and gashed his knee. He once saw a truckload of citrus and bought the whole thing. Everybody had to buy oranges.
We were always in some kind of stage production or musical. Dad would perform the weirdest things, come in the chapel dressed up in white sheets or something and tell Christmas stories.
Ab: We came down to Zion when my favorite daughter Nancy (just turned 50) and had a great time. On the ranch out there, he took is in a jeep and then with a buggy and got stuck in the river and people had to get out and push us.
The Hales were there and had this great barn theater going on. And he built the civic ballet for two seasons.
Connie Rie: Aunt Florence did the script for a production called "Elijah". Different, always different. When Dad was Bishop he would go to the Ward banquet and find people smoking in the foyer or drunk on the floor. He saw that things changed. Opposition took it out on him.
JR: He was not a big man. Mac Bean was his bouncer. Dad put a stop to liquor and smoking in the Church. He even went in and took on a half-breed Indian.
Truman: He visited us once in Cambridge. We pressed him to speak of his setbacks and troubles. He showed me a hate letter written to the State Capitol against him saying he was involved in" dirty d--- business." His comment: "I can throw these things off. But Connie. . ."
I recall his description of a sermon he gave in Panguitch, Hurricane, St. George or all of the above. His point was that too many of the old timers and the new generation had lost their sense of mission. They were dillying and dallying and gossiping about each other. But their only purpose in being alive and being there was to "build the kingdom of God." Afterward somebody slashed his tires.
Connie Rie: Whatever was going on he took us. To museums, to concerts, to pageants, to symphonies, to shows and operas. He was constantly exposing us to the finest and best cultural events.
Truman: Our first trip out of the state (Dad and Gordon and I) was on a Greyhound bus to Alhambra to celebrate Christmas with the "California tribe." I still remember the comfort of Uncle Julius' home. And the vitality of young Connie, Ben, and Jake. I seem to remember a sister of Aunt Connie was there with a serious health problem. [Fae?] Vividly I recall Uncle Jule leading us into four places: Clifton's Restaurant (" A trayful for a trifle") that was like the floral displays in a greenhouse. To Phillipe's near Union Station where there was sawdust on the floor, checkered table clothes and delicious French dip beef sandwiches. To Forest Lawn where we saw the huge Jan Styka painting of Christ just before crucifixion. The background music was "Death and Transfiguration" and it haunts to me to this day. And Griffiths Observatory where there was a program titled, "The Christmas star." Dad became an amateur astronomer and once calculated that within our own immediate galaxy there is a star for every person who has ever lived. He estimated 80 Billion at that time.
Sayings:. When we found a parking place his standard line was, "We must have overpaid our tithing!" He wrote to Ann and me in a note at the time of our marriage, "Live as you go along."
He and others in the family had the capacity to enjoy the trip as well as the destination. I have often wondered if Dad's gypsy traits grew when he was a traveling salesman on the railroad for P.W. Madsen Furniture. All of the brothers seem to have been involved one way or another in extensive travel. Uncle Jule once said he had a yen to someday take a pullman train from coast to coast. He said there was a magic about trains that airlines cannot equal.
Dad once reported that Elder Joseph F. Merrill had given Julius a blessing and that as he later told Uncle Julius, "I felt something," which meant the Spirit of the Lord. Every time we visited Springdale there was a new "never a dull moment" story. And plenty of opposition.
I have told publicly in the "love finds a way" category, how after he had Parkinson's Disease he would put his trembling hand under Aunt Connie's neck at night in bed, an automatic massage, relaxing her until she fell asleep. Then slowly he went to sleep himself which stopped the tremor.
We were once sitting on the deck of the "Governors Mansion" in Springdale with Russell M. Nelson who had brought his young family of daughters to see Zion Park. Uncle Jule was waxing eloquent about predictions of the early brethren that Utah's Dixie would someday "wag the dog." One, he said, spoke of lumber brought down from the Kaibab forest "like an arrow in flight." He pointed to the huge monolith where, in earlier days, logs had in fact been lowered by pulleys and ropes to the canyon floor. Just then, as if on cue, a huge flatbed semi-truck loaded with logs roared by. He stretched his arm and said dramatically, "Lumber!"
I remember seeing a birthday or anniversary card he had written to his wife, Connie. "With all my heart I love you."
I remember Floyd Cornaby and the Manzanita furniture. Have such arts and crafts ever flourished in like manner anywhere else?
Shortly after the telegram carne confirming Grant's crash in Korea, Uncle Jule was in Salt Lake at 19 East First. I had just come from the Temple. Gordon was there too. We voiced our faith in immortality and reunion with Grant...someday. His eyes were compassionate. "Your father put that in to you."
We went to Hawaii, a rare venture, with Julius and Connie and Dad and Edna. Edna had never been on a plane before. We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center and there Julius re-met the Elkingtons whom he had loved years before during his mission to New Zealand. One of them was named after him, "Madsen Elkington." We all later commented on the mellow and soothing tone of old father Elkington as he embraced his friend and brother, "Julius. Julius."
We remember Dad's prayer at the graveside of Uncle Julius as we were surrounded by the colored majesty of peaks he taught us to love. Dad said in effect, "I was present at the birth of this, thy servant Julius. And now at his death, as we say farewell, I am his witness that he fulfilled his mission on earth."
Claudia and Richard on Family ReunionsClaudia Lauper Bushman: You haven't had a family reunion for a long time? (Several: "never")
We share this heritage. My mother tried to organize her own family to have a reunion and they just wouldn't get together. So she organized my father's family. For thirty years, every year we have a reunion. We took a vote recently for every two years. Overwhelmingly we voted for every year. So, each year many come who have not been before and the others keep coming back.
We are very appreciative of this reunion. It was educational and inspiring.
I remember all the Madsen brothers who came to visit in California. Father was very fond of them. He called them "uncles" but they were contemporaries.
Richard Bushman: There is another kind of family reunion. This has been a recovery of many important memories. For the historians this is a beautiful kind of personal history. But not the nation's history. There is another kind of reunion we had last year. It was not motivated by getting our own children together, but the cousins. It's marvelous. So I think that's a good variant.
Someone: "But they're all over 45. . . .[Laughter]"